Kevin Pietersen: Dealing with Jofra Archer is all about instinct
In his second column as a Betway ambassador, the four-time Ashes winner reveals the improvements Australia’s batsmen must make at Headingley.
I still can’t work out why Archer wasn't picked for the first Test match, when he was absolutely fine to be parading around Barbados, dancing at some festival, playing for Sussex’s second XI and then being 12th man for England.
Most headlines since he bowled that Super Over in the World Cup final have been about Archer. Everyone is talking about his superstardom and everything that he brings to the team. I just don't understand.
England played Jimmy Anderson, who hadn't played bowled a single ball since his calf strain leading into that Test match, so why was Archer not playing?
His performance in the second Test will have had more impact on the Australian team than England.
What he did – and I spoke about this last week – was ruffle up Steve Smith.
And I stick to my guns: no-one likes facing balls at 95 miles per hour. No-one.
How to play short bowling
When you're playing bowling as quick as that, it all is about instinct. How do you play under pressure? And how can you cope when somebody’s running in with that pace?
It's a little bit about technique, but it's more about your ability to cope instinctively, because it's so fast. Your adrenaline is going.
You can practice it. So, before I played against Australia, I would go and get onto a bowling machine and face just short balls.
I spent most mornings facing bouncers off a bowling machine in that Ashes series we played Down Under in 2006/07.
I'd get the coaches to set up a bouncing machine with hard balls at 90 miles per hour and I'd just stand there and face it. I'd get hit occasionally, but I was just getting myself completely used to facing that type of bowling.
So when Brett Lee was running in and Tait was running in, I wasn't afraid of being hit or of playing that kind of bowling, and I got 400-500 runs in that series.
From an Australian perspective, they need to go and practise it, just so that they're not scared of it and know that they can cope.
But then they've also got to go and trust their instincts to be able to deal with it.
It’s only a game
I think the way that the concussion tests are working is magnificent.
It was dreadful what happened to Phillip Hughes in 2014 and, goodness, where Smith got hit on Saturday was so close to where Hughes was hit. It was ugly.
And so the right call was made.
It's sport at the end of the day. Yes, it's the Ashes, and everyone's baying for blood, and everybody wants that theatre of Test match cricket.
But I'm currently on a family holiday and I can reflect and say, you know what, there's so much more to life once you've finished a sporting career.
Yes, it's a job. Yes, it's emotional at the time. But it's just a game.
David Warner must change his technique
It gives you a huge boost when the opposition’s best player isn’t available.
It happened to us with at Edgbaston in 2005 when Glenn McGrath was injured on the morning of the match.
People say you want to play against the best players in the world, and of course you do, but England have played Steve Smith now for two Test matches. He got 144, 142 and 92 – I think they've seen enough.
His replacement, Marnus Labuschagne, showed some real fight and courage on Sunday, so will surely be no walkover. But to play against someone different is something that will boost the dressing room.
But it also makes other opposition players say, ‘OK, it's my turn to wake up,’ and I think that responsibility falls to David Warner.
Justin Langer is the head coach and he was a batter. If he doesn't tell Warner to get across to off stump, then he can kiss his chances in this series goodbye.
It’s not nice when a weakness is clearly being targeted, but you've got to put your ego to bed and make a change.
With him batting on the middle stump, he is leaving his stumps completely open. He doesn't know where his off stump is, so he doesn't know what to play. That's why he's nicking so many balls.
If he doesn’t move across to off stump, then Langer and the batting coach Graeme Hick are not doing their job properly.
I don't understand his technique at the moment and he needs to change it for the third Test match.
Thoughts ahead of Headingley
The problem with an Ashes series is that you can’t get away.
If you're at home, you're thinking about the next Test. If you’re on a golf course, you're thinking about the next Test. It just mentally drains you.
The mental fatigue is as draining as the physical fatigue.
It’s a quick turnaround ahead of the third Test, so they need to just get themselves ready to go. But I think the inclusion of Archer has definitely put the cat among the pigeons in that Australian dressing room.
They’ve got to keep Jason Roy going at the top of the order. Hopefully he'll come good, he has to come good.
He’s not the kind of player that you just throw away. If it's not happening at the top of the order – and it's hard against Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – then maybe he's got to be looked at a little lower down. But he'll know the pressure is on him.
It doesn't matter what I say, or what Nasser Hussain or Shane Warne say on the TV. It's about the individual buckling down and getting runs.
There is more than one player in trouble.
It’s quite nice that Archer's taking every headline at the moment, because if he wasn’t then there are a few guys who would be in the line of fire.
Visit Betway's cricket betting page.